Why do you do what you do?
In effect, Jesus asked His disciples (and you and me) that question. He wanted to know why you give and why you pray.
It’s truly easy to get caught up in doing religious things “in order to be seen of men” (Matthew 6:1). When you give for the poor, pray, or practice any other religious exercise, seek to understand yourself and discover why you do what you do.
If all we are simply seeking is to be thought religious or to be seen and applauded by other people, we have received all the reward we will get. Satan uses our need for acclaim to rob us of the real blessing that comes by serving others and worshiping God. Jesus put it this way, when people pray or give that “they may be seen by men. . . . they have their reward” (Matthew 6:5).
They wanted to be seen and they were seen. They have been paid in full and the acclaim they desired is all they will get. They have been seen by others but God is left out of their lives.
How do we get beyond our own selfish needs?
First, acknowledge to God your emptiness and need for affirmation. God knows our needs. He knows you even better than you know yourself. Confess your weakness and emptiness on the inside to Him. Confessing and acknowledging your weakness is a major first step in being healed from the need to be seen.
Second, ask God to change you. Tell Him that you are doing so many things to be seen but that you want to do them for the right reasons. As you ask Him, He will begin to bring change in your life.
Third, turn your whole self over to God. Ask Him to change you from the inside out. Find specific ways to overcome your inner needs.
Jesus gave examples of what to do: when you give, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matthew 6: 3) and when you pray, go into your prayer closet (Matthew 6:6).
Jesus did not mean that you can only pray in secret. Instead, He is giving His followers concrete ways and examples of overcoming our weaknesses. This is not an encouragement for legalism; it is an encouragement to worship God from a heart of purity and love–this is what God desires from us.
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